The Sierra Club is a national, member-supported environmental organization that seeks to influence public policy in Washington D.C., in the state capitals, and locally through public education and grass-roots political action.
As one of five Groups within the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Harvey Broome Group is based in Knoxville, TN, and focuses on Knox County and seventeen surrounding counties in East Tennessee. Our namesake, Harvey Broome (1902-1968), was a founding member of the Widlerness Society and a native of Knoxville TN.
The Harvey Broome Group undertakes important conservation issues, offers year-round outings to enhance appreciation of the outdoors, and presents monthly programs that range from experts in environmental issues to entertaining speakers who have explored our world.
See the About Us page for more about who we are and what we do.
Tennessee Wilderness Act - TN Senators Alexander and Corker introducted - for the fourth time - the Tennessee Wilderness Act. This Act would add nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness to the Cherokee National Forest by creating one new area and expanding five existing areas. The Knoxville News Sentinel endorsed the bill. House sponsors are needed. The areas are within the districts of Rep. Phil Roe and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. See the TN Wilderness Act Issues page and the Get Involved page for more information.
Every year the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club has a presence at the state legislature. Not only do we have a lobbyist, but we have numerous volunteers who help talk with legislators and go to hearings and committee meetings. All volunteers are welcome to participate in this process. If you want to be on our alert list for notices throughout the legislative session on bills of importance, please contact Scott Banbury at email@example.com.
The 2015 session of the Legislature adjourned April 22. Year two of this session will convene in January, 2016. Following are highlights of 2015.
Primacy Act SB0842/HB0833 - This legislation would give the state "primacy" over coal mining in Tennessee. Currently the federal government's Office of Surface Mining regulates coal mining in Tennessee. The TN Mining Association authored the bill with an ultimate goal of increased coal mining in the state, i.e. continuation and expansion of an outdated and dirty way to produce energy. This bill did not pass. However it may be resurrected in the 2016 legislative session.
"Recreational" mining SB0390/HB0442 - This legislation would have allowed virtually unregulated "non-commercial" mechanized dredging in streams across TN. This would devastate stream habitat. The legislation was defeated by a broad coalition of environmental, conservation and sporting organizations, including Sierra Club, TN Conservation Voters, Southern Environmental Law Center, TN Clean Water Network, Trout Unlimited and the TN Wildlife Federation. Non-commercial mining requests will now be decided by an ongoing administrative process around Aquatic Resource Alteration Permitting (ARAP).
State Approval of EPA Clean Power Plan SB1325/HB0868 - This legislation was based on Koch brothers-financed American's For Prosperity model legislation seeking to interfere with the the TN Department of Environment and Conservation's State Implementation Plan for the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The Plan seeks to dramatically reduce the emissions of CO2 from coal burning power plants. The bills would have required legislative approval of a state plan to implement Section 111(d) of the EPA's guidelines before the plan could be submitted to the EPA. Due to opposition from the Sierra Club and the administration, the bill was amended to only require that a report be made to both houses of the legislature. Even though the bill passed, this is mostly a win for us.
HJR0092 - This is a resolution (not a bill) supporting the transfer of Federal western public lands to the states. Sierra Club friends on the House State Government Committee, including Representatives Johnny Shaw from Bolivar and Jason Powell from Nashville argued against the bill. It was passed by the House, scheduled to be on the Senate floor but was re-sent to the Senate Calendar Committee and never came back up. The resolution was not passed.
Administrative Procedure (UAPA) SB0468/HB0406 -These bills would authorize agencies to amend a rule pursuant to a request from the Government Operations Committee without having to initiate a new rulemaking process, thus eliminating the opportunity to request a public hearing and comment period on the amended rules. These bills did not pass.
NOT SO GOOD NEWS
PACE Bill HB0237/SB1043 - Passage of the Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE bill was our number one priority this year. PACE is an innovative way for local governments to provide for financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, or water conservation improvement to buildings, with repayment made by an addition to the annual property tax bill. There is no cost to state or local government. Thirty three states, most recently VA and KY, have PACE programs. Support came from the Realtors Association, the Haslam Administration (TDEC Energy office), the TREEDC (Tennessee Renewable Energy Development Council, an association of 96 county and city mayors and businesses working toward expansion of renewable energy), TennesSEIA, and numerous energy efficiency and solar companies. However, the Bankers Association opposed it. The bill did not pass. We will try again in the 2016 session. The House sponsor was Representative Bill Dunn of Knoxville.
Administrative Procedure (UAPA) SB0467/HB0216 - The bills would require, instead of authorize, the Government Operations Committees to review every rule promulgated pursuant to the UAPA; decrease, from 25 to 10, the number of persons that must petition an agency to compel a public hearing on a proposed rule; require the committees to consider the effect of a rule on small business (later amended to "Business" and the arbitrariness and capriciousness of a rule. The legislative was signed by the Gov on April 20.
SJR0002 - A Senate resolution (not a bill) that urges the proposal of a US Constitutional amendment requiring Congressional approval of federal regulations if ¼ of either house calls for it. The Senate passed it 27-1 with 3 Present not voting.